30 January 2017
At the end of last week we invited new mothers and mothers-to-be along to UKFast Campus with their little ones for a coffee morning to catch up with their colleagues and talk to the other UKFast families.
My wife Gail realised it was about time to hold such an event when we tallied up the number of babies that have been born in the team in the past twelve months. No less than 16 UKFast babies were born in 2016!
It was a wonderful morning and great to see so many mums and dads catching up, comparing stories and sharing cuddles with the little ones. Walking round the office afterwards, I spotted a few of the little ones at desks with their parents for the rest of the day!
It’s extraordinarily important to show new parents that they are supported by the team and give them an opportunity to come in and catch up with everyone in a relaxed, welcoming environment.
I have four daughters and I understand how difficult establishing a healthy work-life balance can be for families. Apart from the practical changes we can offer as a business, like adjusting working hours and providing a crèche and flexibility in the office, I think the most important part is the social side – events just like these. We learned this a long time ago with our annual Friends and Family event at Christmastime. It gives everyone the chance to connect with other parents and it is what really makes a difference, giving and mothers on maternity leave a chance to connect with the rest of the team.
We have invested millions into creating a space that is family friendly and spent years creating a culture that goes beyond community and feels like family. We’ve built an office where not only our team, but their families feel at home.
We spend no less than a third of our lives at work, which makes me think that, as business leaders, we need to make sure every team member is not only comfortable but happy in their environment during this time. In my opinion, this feeling should continue even when we’re not in the office. It makes perfect sense to keep those who are not in the office, because they are off on maternity leave for example, updated through inviting them to work events and sending them newsletters. They’re very much a part of the team still!
I have to admit it’s not just the team who enjoys these kinds of family events in the office. Gail and I have been watching the team grow for 17 years. It’s so nice to see that many of the original team are still here with us, and because we’ve known them for so many years we’ve seen them get married and have families. Some of their kids have even joined our team!
How do you encourage a family environment at work?